07 July 2015

D&D 30-Day Challenge: Day 12 - Favorite Dungeon Type / Location

Dungeons.  You know 'em, you love 'em.  Or at least, if you grew up gaming when I did you probably do.  I mean, it's a significant percentage of the actual name of the game.

I would say my favorite dungeon type was influenced by one of my favorite toys of the 80s.  I grew up with this creative side that was just looking for a reason to express itself.  As a kid, I not only played with my toys, but I constructed elaborate backgrounds and details for them based on the smallest details- like what was on the computer screens of my classic Lego Space sets, or small details about GI Joe or Transformers characters- Skywarp was a cruel practical joker.  Flash had an education in electronics.  As an 8-9 year old, I wanted to know what the hell NATO and the Warsaw Pact were.  Details.  Details.

When I got Castle Grayskull as a birthday present in 1982, the details in the playset got my brain rolling at warp speed.  Compared to more modern, newer playsets the detail is actually a bit sparse.  Inside the castle one finds two floors, an elevator, a throne, some accessory weapons, and a laser cannon along with two battlement floors to let figures stand atop the towers.

The interior of the castle itself is simply the interior mold of the exterior- save some cardstock decorations.  It was these decorations that did the trick.  The image below of the interior of Castle Grayskull can be clicked to expand it to its full size.  Like many other things in the Masters of the Universe toy line, the interior of the castle mixed fantasy and science fiction elements.  The laser cannon is the big give-away, of course, but take a look at those other decorations. 

The view screen hanging from the ceiling- what is it showing us, and why?  Is that Eternia's orbit, or some other far off world from whence technology came to Eternia?  Look at the space suit and life support equipment.  Is it what it appears to be, a space suit?  If so, is it here due to some astronaut arriving and leaving it here, or is it awaiting an occupant to allow them to travel to the planet on the monitor?  Is Castle Grayskull somehow a portal or destination for this other world to travel to Eternia?  It appears to have a wrist-mounted missile, and a laser rifle is standing next to it.  Is it powered armor?  Is there a star soldier inside in suspended animation, ready to come back to life to defend Castle Grayskull from intruders?

The decal inside the jawbridge tells an even more interesting tale.  If Castle Grayskull has been abandoned these many years, why are there live creatures in the dungeon whose tentacles still seek escape?  Are they magical monsters?  Alien creatures?  Who imprisoned them, and why?

Thanks to my fascination with these details, my favorite kind of dungeon in D&D has always been abandoned fortresses like Castle Grayskull.  Xak Tsaroth in Dragonlance would certainly qualify, as would Quasqueton in B1.  I love a good ancient fortress- even better if it is in inexplicably good shape externally despite having been long abandoned.  What secrets hide inside these decrepit walls- and were they built to keep something out, or, like the book/film The Keep, are they there to keep something IN?

I really cherished the opportunity to run a Robotech game set in 1999, when the PCs accompanied CAPT Gloval and Dr. Lang into the wreckage of SDF-1 soon after it crashed on Earth.  I treated the game like a good abandoned fortress dungeon crawl, and it was GREAT.

Someday, I might get REALLY meta, and create a Dungeons & Dragons adventure based on the old Fortress of Fangs playset from LJN.

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